Felipe Massa gained a crucial advantage over world title rival Lewis Hamilton as he captured pole position for the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver set a benchmark of one minute 12.368 seconds but Hamilton could not match it and finished almost half a second behind in fourth.
Toyota's Jarno Trulli collected second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton has a seven-point lead in the title race which means Massa must win or finish second to deny him the title.
But even if Massa wins, Hamilton only needs to finish fifth for McLaren to become Britain's first world champion since Damon Hill in 1996 and the youngest ever in the History of the sport.
"I will try to do my best to win the race, which is the most important thing," said Massa, who claimed his third successive pole in Sao Paulo.
WHAT HAMILTON NEEDS TO DO
If Massa wins in Brazil, Hamilton must finish at least fifth to be champion
If Massa is second, Hamilton must finish at least seventh
If Massa is third or lower, Hamilton is champion regardless of his result in Brazil BBC Sport Report...
COME ON LEWIS.... Hes got his work cut out for him, but if anyone is good under pressure, its Lewis Hamilton!!
is he has Kovalainen behind him at the start, so hopefully hell stick with him, provide some cover at the rear. Dont forget Alonso said he will try and help Massa win...basically, hes aiming to take Lewis out...